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NBA Finals truths
that will set you free
By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist
"Don't really matter about that blowout in Game 4," I said to Road Dog.
Flopping is the last resort of the vertically challenged. It is basically a college play, a high school play, a minor-league play. It is also called "taking the charge." Catholic high school coaches believe in it. Even the worst player can get there late, after the ball is heading to the rim. The idea is to establish a position on the floor, which you have a right to, according to the rules, then selling a ref on the so-called fact that the guy with the basketball has basically run over you, knocking you off your space on the floor. If you find yourself flopping all over the place, every time your man beats you off the dribble, which is often, then looking up at the ref, begging for this pathetic bit of charity, then it might be time for your old butt to consider a new career (see Oakley). Dennis Rodman was good at flopping, particularly late in his career, when he stopped being able to jump. Rodman, and many college-level players, will flop and then, when the ref makes the call their way, they'll actually get up and throw a fist and give a primal scream, like they made a play or something, like they were Alley I. and just dunked over a brace of 7-footers; it's pitiful, really. It's basically a tactic of the unathletic, and so, it's especially popular among "old dudes," and those who play like "old dudes."
It's funny to me (but not to Alley I.) when people say, "Tyronn Lue & Derek Fisher are doing a good job defensively on Allen Iverson." No, it's the Lakers' double-teams doing it. It's Robert Horry, 6-10, Championship Veteran, flexible enough to double Alley I. on the perimeter, coming from off the ball, once Alley I. beats the ball denial of Fisher or Lue
The Lakers are somewhat more talented, because they have Shaq and Kobe. And it's not like they have a complete mismatch even there, hence the lure of Philly rather than Milwaukee in the Finals vs. the Lakers. Shaq & Kobe v. Mutombo & Iverson. Horace Grant ain't what he used to be. Whenever I see Ron Harper get up to come into the game, my own back starts to hurt. True, Larry Brown calls the group of Kevin Ollie, Jumaine Jones, Rodney Buford, Raja Bell and Todd MacCulloch, "my summer league team," but Phil Jackson has some summer run himself sitting over there -- Lue, Fisher, Harper, Mark Madsen, Rider, other guys who will never see the light of day. In essence, the series is Shaq and Kobe, along with Robert Horry, the Championship Veteran, vs. Mutombo and Alley I., the Defensive Player of the Year and the league MVP, along with Aaron McKie, the Injured Veteran.
Horry. In Game 4, he helped blow the Sixers by going 3-3 from 3-land. Bailed out the Lakers in Game 3 with that 3-pointer from the corner, scoring the last seven points; also, Horry and Kobe Bryant made Alley I. change his last-second shot on a drive through the middle. Horry's an interesting guy -- unless you're Danny Ainge, who as coach of the Phoenix Suns had a towel thrown in his face by Horry for daring to think Horry was a taller version of Kobe, and asking him to play like it. Horry is perfect on a team with other weapons, like he was with Houston in the mid-'90s, with Hakeem Olajuwon, Sam I Am, Jet and Mad Max, all three-point guns; like he is now. Horry wound up on David Letterman after the Rockets won the title with him hitting a few 3s. Horry plays ball for, say, 15 games a year, and wins NBA titles, and ends up A Hero. He's the playing version of Phil Jackson -- good at what he does, one of the best at what he does; he's also blessed in where he does it. What's up next for him? Stuffing a corn dog down Sixer fan and bandleader Kevin Eubanks' throat, as Jay Leno reads a newspaper clip misspelling Horry's name on "The Tonight Show"? Well ... he'd better close out with that double of Alley I. first. Or else The Little Kid will drop fiddy. That's 50, to the Brooklyn-impaired. (6) Where'd He Go? Award
The numbers say NBC's audience is nearly 20 percent higher than for last year's Finals, which, as far as I know, nobody remembers, except that the Lakers won, and Larry Bird was involved in it somehow, only not playing. Ray Allen, the Milwaukee Bucks' All-World 2 guard, said the league would rather see the Sixers, with A.I., Mutombo and Larry Brown, against the Lakers, rather than see Milwaukee. No offense to Ray Allen, who is All-World, after all; but other than you, Ray, what's to want to see with the Buck-passers? It wasn't just David Stern and/or NBC head Dick Ebersol who wanted the Sixers vs. the Lakers; apparently, it was everybody, outside of Milwaukeeans and blood relatives of the Bucks' players, coaches and staff, who, put together, don't make up .10 of a Neilsen ratings point. Even if they did, the Bucks would've been swept so fast they wouldn't have had time to say the refs cheated.
(1) Tiger will be depressed because the Sixers are taking His Majesty's Lakers to six games. (2) The law of averages. Tiger is the House, but the High Rollers have to be allowed to win sometimes, every once in a while, just to keep them coming back to the casino. In the long run, as we who believe in bettin' know, nobody beats the House. (3) Who says Tiger won't win the 2001 U.S. Open? (Psst. It was Scott Van Pelt who said that, Tiger. Not me). (4) You don't want to get God on your bad side, do you? (5) Earl Woods' deal with Beelzebub runs out. Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."
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